Citizenship in the American and Global Polity
an interdisciplinary seminar for college and university faculty
July 20-26, 2013
For almost thirty years, college and university faculty have renewed their own commitment to liberal education in a specially-designed program of Socratic discussion. Based on the classic Mortimer Adler great books seminar that launched the Aspen Institute in 1950, the Wye Faculty Seminar consists of a week-long series of facilitated discussions drawing on primary texts from antiquity to the present, both western and global. Faculty are challenged to explore the meaning of liberal education in the 21st-century in an atmosphere that is at once collegial and intellectually demanding. This is a rare opportunity, over the course of a week, to develop rich interior and communal conversations about the issues at the heart of why and what we teach. Faculty become better teachers as they are renewed in their experience—both in and out of seminar—of what it means to learn.
The formal seminar sessions, limited to 20 participants, are intense explorations of the texts, the tensions within and among the texts, and the implications of the texts for our own day. Substantial unscheduled time allows for reading and re-reading, reflection, the enjoyment of the natural beauty of the Wye River Plantation, and access to the many sites along the Chesapeake Bay and in historic Annapolis. Over the course of the week, faculty find that their intellectual explorations are deepened and broadened as the group sustains a crescendo of conversation. For many, the conversation extends beyond the end of the seminar week and into lasting friendships.
Participants experience liberal education at its best. They have the opportunity to explore the issues and values fundamental to our civilization with faculty colleagues from different disciplines and different institutions. They sharpen their skills of cooperative conversation and collective intellectual engagement. They return to their home campuses better able and equipped to exercise leadership among their colleagues in the advancement of liberal learning and across disciplines. While there are many professional development opportunities for faculty, none provides this unique combination of close reading, deep and extended conversation, and reflection.
“The Wye faculty Seminar reinforced for me the importance of a liberal education and the interrelatedness of our various disciplines.”
“The Wye Faculty Seminar is unique in my experience. A forum in which the guiding questions about citizenship, interconnectedness, and belonging emerge organically from the conversation. Such a meeting of the minds and feelings is rare but essential, exhilarating and demanding all at once.”
“I felt engaged not only as an intellect, but also—and perhaps more importantly—as an embodied human being.”
Nominations and Applications: Presidents, provosts, and deans are invited to nominate up to three faculty members to attend this unique faculty development program, the 2013 Wye Faculty Seminar on Citizenship in the American and Global Polity. We encourage participation by professors representing a wide variety of disciplines. In past seminars, specialties have ranged from the classics, languages, history, drama, and philosophy, to economics, political science, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Alumni of these seminars have consistently praised the week at Wye and the many benefits they bring back to their home campuses. Academic Officers are required to notify their nominee selection(s) before nominees apply on line.
Nominees should complete the on-line application form and submit to the
Aspen Institute before April 5, 2013 Each seminar begins with an opening reception and dinner on the evening of the first day and closes with lunch on the final day. Participants' guests are welcome on a double occupancy basis for a small additional fee, which includes room, board, social events, and a copy of the readings. Guests are welcome to observe the seminar, but do not participate at the roundtable discussions.
Costs: Each college or university is required to provide travel costs and a participation fee of $2,850 for each Fellow. The fee includes tuition, lodging, meals, social events, and the seminar readings that are sent to participants well in advance of the seminar. Payments may be made by check or major credit cards. Limited scholarship funds are available in cases of special need.
Contact: For further information, contact: Charlene Costello, Senior Coordinator, phone 410-820-5374, fax 410-827-9182, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded by Douglass Cater, then president of Washington College, and Josiah Bunting III, then president of Hampden-Sydney College, the Wye Faculty Seminar began as a pilot program in August 1983, when five small liberal arts colleges - Washington, Hampden-Sydney, Hood, Sweet Briar and Spelman - sent twenty professors to participate in an experimental, round-table discussion of "Citizenship and the American Polity."
Upon the retirement of Douglass Cater from Washington College and Josiah Bunting's assumption as headmaster at the Lawrenceville School, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and The Aspen Institute agreed to co-sponsor the Wye Faculty Seminar in 1991. This established partnership ensures that the Wye Faculty Seminar will remain unmatched in its power to provide professors teaching in the nation's liberal arts colleges and universities the opportunity to come together for a week of intellectual dialogue.
The mission of the Wye Faculty Seminar is to assist professors from colleges and universities in relating their teaching to broad issues of citizenship in the American polity and beyond. The Seminar seeks to address a central need of faculty in liberal arts institutions—to exchange ideas with colleagues from other colleges and other disciplines while probing ideas and values that underlie their teaching and the lives they lead as liberally educated persons. Modeled in the tradition of The Aspen Institute Executive Seminars, each Wye Faculty Seminar combines three essential ingredients:
- first, to gather a diverse group of thoughful men and women in intellectually rigorous roundtable discussions—truly around the table to converse with rather than confront one another;
- second, to explore great literature stretching from ancient to contemporary time, not merely for artistry of language but for the power of ideas on fundamental issues in our society, and
- third, to translate ideas into action suitable to the challenges of our age.